At a glance
By Johanna Leggatt
You hit snooze when the alarm goes off, drag yourself through the day’s meetings and you seethe at the maddening office politics that cloud your day.
Performance transformation expert and founder of QT Transformation Dr Vesna Grubacevic has helped many workers transition between jobs and she recommends taking a holiday to reflect on what is causing you angst and to seek counsel from someone objective, i.e.: not necessarily friends or family.
“Friends are well meaning, but their advice will be based on their own fears, judgements and beliefs so you need to make sure you make decisions that are right for you,” she says.
“There is a lot that is possible in this world, so avoid being restricted by other people’s fears and self-doubts.”
According to career and leadership expert Michelle Gibbings, author of Career Leap: How to Reinvent and Liberate your Career, people have more choices than they realise.
“There are always options and it’s about what you’re willing to trade off,” she says.
“When I left my corporate job, people asked me how I could afford to leave an executive salary to run my own business, but it’s one of the best things I ever did because now I am doing what I was born to do.”
Here are some of the common signs that you, too, might need to jump ship:
1. Your performance is dropping
Perhaps you are an overachiever, but lately you have been doing the bare minimum, watching the clock as it inches towards home time.
“When you get to that stage, it starts to affect your reputation as others can see that your performance is dropping,” says Gibbings.
It’s natural to lack motivation sometimes, but if you’re habitually dreading going to work when you wake up, then that is a big problem.
“Occasionally we all dread work but from a behavioural point of view anything more than twice is a pattern, so look for patterns of feeling this way,” says Grubacevic.
2. You feel stunted
If you feel that you are pushing a metaphorical rock up a hill every day with little career progression or opportunities to learn, then alarm bells should be ringing.
“The working world is changing all the time, so you need to keep up with the changes in your field,” says Gibbings.
A 2017 National Salary Survey, by the Institute of Managers and Leaders, estimated almost 60 per cent of Australian employees resigned from their role because of limited career progression.*
Grubacevic agrees that a lack of a clear career path or opportunity is a huge problem.
“Most workers crave challenge, and if there is no challenge people will get frustrated and lose a sense of purpose and meaning,” she says.
3. You’re burnt out and unappreciated
Often the problem is too much work and too many hours. A 2018 Australia Institute survey of 1459 people found an annual average of 312 hours of unpaid overtime per worker, per year, which amounts to six hours per week.
The problem is not confined to Australia, with Singapore coming in behind Tokyo at number two in a list of overworked cities in Kiski’s Cities for the Best Work-Life Balance 2019 survey.
“You need to put yourself first,” says Gibbings, “sacrificing your own mental health is not worth it”.
Burnout often occurs because of a toxic work environment, Gibbings notes, such as a boss that bullies or belittles, or an aggressive and unpleasant work culture.
“These [are] all warning signs it’s time to leave,” she says.
4. You don’t believe in what you’re doing
Many professionals underestimate how important it is for their personal values to align with those of the company.
“You can’t change who you are so if you go into a work environment and that requires you to be something that you’re not, or the company is producing a product that you don’t agree with, it’s as if you sold your soul,” says Gibbings.
“After a while that does you psychological damage so you need to know the line you won’t cross.”
5. Cynical is your middle name
Another good reason to leave is if you become so miserable you bring everyone else down and are cynical towards new ideas.
“You complain about everything, nothing is good enough and you drag everyone else in the office down with you,” says Gibbings.
“You don’t trust the organisation you work in or the people you work with. It’s time to go.”
How to quit your job: first, get prepared
- Ensure you have a healthy financial buffer so you have the freedom to quit if need be.
- Get advice from a careers coach or mentor to help you work through your options.
- Create a transition plan to ease from one role to the next.
- Remember that leaving doesn’t have to be dramatic. It could be quitting your current role but staying in the same organisation or going part-time. Small changes can be very powerful.
* Respondents were allowed multiple reasons for leaving